Deb🐝 Lange en Humans, Nature and Creativity, Directors and Executives, Profissionais Administrativos Embodied Wisdom for the Modern Age • Deborah Lange, Social Intelligence, Creating Vitality in Business and Life 16/11/2016 · 4 min de lectura · 1,7K

Creating the Conditions for Business and Personal Vitality PART 1

Creating the Conditions for Business and Personal Vitality PART 1                                                                  Atlassian Foodbank 


The status quo on reviewing the health of a business often looks like a medical diagnostic looking for the visible and measurable. We may look at numbers of clients, money in the bank, costs, turnover, engagement, then prescribe something to fix the“troubled” parts.

Examples of Challenges and Status Quo Responses

1 Problem: Costly Mistakes

Solution: Implement more procedures to stop people making mistakes

Beliefs: We need to control people and tell them what to do

Developing more procedures to “control” mistakes results in people feeling repressed and being forced into compliance, hence vitality declines. When people feel judged and are blamed for mistakes they feel minimised. This increases the fear of speaking up and hence we inadvertently increase a lack of engagement and cover ups.

Resistance emerges from a lack of safety and respect. In a controlling, low trust work environment the only way people have a sense of agency is to resist change efforts imposed upon them, and create safety through the comfort of the way things are. We then say we have a resistance to change problem, and create a strategy to overcome the resistance. We unintentionally create dependence, low vitality and resistance. The exact opposite of what we want to create.

2 Problem: Turnover & Lack of Engagement

Solution: Give people more benefits

Solution: Ask people for their ideas.

Beliefs: Management need to Please People and buy their loyalty

Employee benefits are only one part of building a culture with vitality. If people are restrained from contributing to the development of their work and the organisation, benefits are more like buying loyalty and have a minimum gain. Asking for ideas may have an increase in engagement, but if people are not allowed to implement their ideas, and are involved in paralysing time wasting meetings where decisions are NOT made, they become cynical and give up. The result is either an increase in absenteeism, presenteeism, or high turnover which are all the opposite of vitality.

3 Problem: Lack of Engagement

Solution: Hand over responsibility and make people more accountable

Beliefs: We Need to Be Hands Off, but, respect, trust and relationships are not important or nothing can be done about these intangible areas

Unintended Consequences

This can be like an unconscious set up for people to fail. If we do not build trust and maintain good recipricol, non-judgemental feedback systems, people who are handed responsibility and then left to their own devices, may become stressed not knowing whether they are doing the right work. The managers become stressed because they do not trust their people even though they handed over responsibility. The trust gap creates alienation, stress and conflict.


These kinds of strategies are like giving an aspirin to someone who has a headache. If the person has a belief they should work “like a machine,” 18 hours a day, they will continue to have headaches and take aspirin. The aspirin does not “fix” the cause of the problem.

                                                           Emotionless Human Beings

If we review our invisible beliefs about the actions we choose, we will realise the actions attached to those beliefs generate stress. For example, we may unconsciously believe we are more are like a machine than a human being, without physical, emotional, psychological, relational, financial, and spiritual needs. We may also uncover a dependency belief about needing someone else to fix our problems, in this case, a doctor who prescribes aspirin.

When we reconnect with our humanity, we increase the options for fostering vitality. We may take responsibility for starting a new sleep pattern, pursue creative activities or spend time enriching relationships, all vital for whole person well-being. The more these activities are pursued the more we experience a sense of aliveness that compels us to keep doing the things that make us feel good. The consequence, being headache free, and surprise, surprise, it is likely we will find more creative solutions surface from a state of vitality and well being, than when working hard as an “emotionless machine”. We will not need the aspirin anymore.

                                                                      Holistic Human Nature

This is “transformation”for well-being and vitality. The first “aspirin taking” scenario is a simplistic, dependency, orientated solution that perpetuates the problem. The second solution generates long-term, adaptive change.

From the Individual to the Organisation

“The Peckham Experiment” into Health Ecology conducted over 60 years ago, provides vital research into the conditions that create vitality. Dr Scott Williamson and Dr Innes Pearse designed an experiment to study how people created health and well-being, spanning a 15 year period with over 1000 people.

The central tenets to this study offer implications for vitality in health, wellbeing, creativity and productivity in business, community and family.

The keys to vitality:

· Safe, supportive, enabling environment

· Freedom to be spontaneous

· Non-judgemental feedback

· Supportive staff versus intrusive and manipulative staff

· Support during transitions

The results of this experiment on families were astounding.

Over a 15 year period there were:

· No marriage breakdowns

· No bullying and only one accident

· Low interest in competition

· High level collaboration and joint projects

· High skills acquisition

· Improved health and well being

· Increased creativity

What did the keys to the environment create?

Health, well being and vitality when people lived, worked, played and learnt together in a spontaneous, safe and trusting environment.

What was critical in the Peckham experiment was the ability to allow confusion and chaos to reign as people learnt how to self-organise and co-create high trust and autonomy to achieve well being for themselves and the collective.

GOOGLE implement skunk works for people to be creative, other companies like ATLASSIAN give people 20% of their time to do whatever they like within the business.

Some Business Owners and managers, say, that is all very well for GOOGLE or ATLASSIAN, they need to be creative, we can not give people high trust and autonomy in banking, or insurance, or retail. The conditions for human vitality in business are not dependent on what business we are in. Every group of people that co-exist and work together will thrive and generate vitality if allowed to co-create the conditions for vitality to emerge.

Our current state of disruption is a great opportunity to pioneer and experiment with the conditions that foster vitality. This is consistent with the Peckham experiment, whose results said initially they were in a state of chaos as they worked out the best conditions to thrive. We have mountains of research spanning almost a 100 year period from Peckham, to the 2016 FORTUNE 500 Great Place to Work studies, and many in between.

So what is stopping us? 

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: Capacities to Develop

If you were to “Trust Your Senses” what would you do to co-create the conditions for vitality in your personal life and business today? 

The book, Trust Your Senses - Embodied Wisdom for the Modern Age is now on Amazon. Get your copy here.

Deb🐝 Lange 29/11/2016 · #22

Thanks for doing that extra research @CityVP Manjit#21 there are many experiments and studies that are not valued at the time. I was lucky enough to work with a Manager and his Unit for a year in one of my consultancy projects.we did transform the culture from control and alienation to high trust and collaboration, etc We did not realise how good work was until the end of the year when the Unit self organised to review the year, and plan the next one. the barriers we dissolved and the emergence of good will and creativity were significant.

+1 +1
CityVP 🐝 Manjit 28/11/2016 · #21

The final part of my inquiry and fascination with what you introduced in this buzz with the Peckham Experiment was finished this morning as I investigated actualities about the closure of the center. Mythologies tend to be built up over time and it is always both prescient and insightful to get a deeper understanding of why a center that was so progressive in this thinking was shut down. That evidence is available and it balances out what led to the closure of the center.

‘Smashed by the National Health’? A Closer Look at the Demise of the Pioneer Health Centre, Peckham by Philip Conford

This piece completes the picture of the Peckham Experiment for me and in addition adds something fundamental to my knowledge, which was Scott Williamson's attempts to create a practice that opposed pathological thinking i.e. an alternative to pathology, which he called "ethology". It turns out that ethology is credited to others rather than anything to the Peckham Experiment and here one paper does discuss "Human Ethology and the Pioneer Health Centre". This document also introduces the role of Michael Chance and his encounter with the Peckham Experiment.

Between the Clinic and the Laboratory: Ethology and Pharmacology in the Work of Michael Robin Alexander Chance

+1 +1
CityVP 🐝 Manjit 28/11/2016 · #20

#19 I know about this experiment because you introduced me to it and then I was captivated all Sunday afternoon to learn more about it. What I instinctively know that projects like Peckham are only kept in the public consciousness by people who have a much more extensive time relationship i.e. they can think over much longer-terms and therefore have a larger perspective.

This is where one individual in that project caught my attention and that was Eileen Conn MBE. I noted her work in Whitehall, and her work on Living Systems and Complexity. In 2010 she was involved in a discussion at a gathering of the 1st International Workshop on Complexity and Real World Applications in Southampton.

1st International Workshop on Complexity - Discussion : Are Conversations Emergent?

What I find in the discussion is the usual organizational references such as Chris Argyris, but also mention of Ralph Stacey, who is still alive and whose work I find most compelling as a thinker. It was through Stacey I saw a richer view of uncertainty.

Ralph Stacey - Complexity and Paradoxes 2015 Video

Along with Eileen Conn, Dr Lisa Curtiss is another keeping the Peckham Experiment in the community consciousness and her interview with Henrietta Trotter (who was involved in the original Peckham Experiment) is interesting also

Interview: Lisa Curtiss with Henrietta Trotter

+1 +1
Deb🐝 Lange 27/11/2016 · #19

#18 Dear @CityVP Manjit wow, you certainly know about this experiment. One of my formal studies is in Social Ecology - I gained a Masters Degree through my own research on my own practice as a Management Consultant working with organisations many years ago. My Professor, Richard Bawden for my thesis was the Professor of Systems Thinking. Western Sydney University is renowned for systems thinking. The Peckham Experiment was brought to my attention by the Head of the Social Ecology Faculty. Emeritus Professor Stuart Hill, who is now retired from university life. Peckham is profoundly important. I have been lucky in my career to work with some Managers who have been willing to experiment and shift controlling cultures to cultures where people have the freedom to self-organise. This has contributed wonderful results. But this experiment for 14 years has the evidence that I need to provide. Unfortunately, I do not have statistics for most of my work, it is all anecdotal, even over a year, as we did not know we would create such success. We were experimenting. Today more than ever people want evidence before experimenting and Peckham is a rich source of evidence.

+1 +1
CityVP 🐝 Manjit 27/11/2016 · #18

The bit I did not read before a.k.a. "The Peckham Experiment" simply captured my imagination as I realized what it was I reading. When Williamson died in 1953 and Pearse died in 1978, I am sure that neither would have thought that their legacy (The Peckham Experiment) would be carried forward by The Pioneer Health Foundation into the 21st Century despite the NHS ending their work in 1950. I loved the Biblical quote they used to describe how the work of the two pioneers lives on It is quite remarkable that something that could have been easily forgotten is kept in the memory by only a handful of people. The quote is in the June 2016 blog post by Lisa Curtice "The Roots of Democratic Culture". What else is in there is a reference to Eileen Conn - so who would have thought that the London Borough of Peckham would have a thinker who has contributed to living systems and complexity thinking - I must say, what an incredible link and related linkages. Deb, how did you come to know about The Peckham Experiment, when this would only be knowledge to a handful of people in a select part of the healthcare profession? I was quite absorbed by this today.

+1 +1
Deb🐝 Lange 24/11/2016 · #17

#13 thanks Graham I will be finishing part 2. On the weekend . I hope we can continue the conversation. Do you have questions you are pondering?

Deb🐝 Lange 24/11/2016 · #16

#14 yes, and not just micro- management, but applying simple solutions to complex problems. simple rational solutions are fine if I want to fix a tyre in my car but are not appropriate if I want to influence the culture of my business.

Deb🐝 Lange 24/11/2016 · #15

I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Margaret Wheatley over 20 years ago just after she published Leadership & the New Science her work provided a great source of nourishment to me. I had another experience later in with her and Otto Scharmer before he had published his work on Presence so I feel lucky I have been in the flow of seeking out great practitioners throughout my life. Thank you for pointing me in another direction with your references which I will follow up. #12

+1 +1